I can still remember that one night I spent watching a documentary about the mysterious painting that captivated the world–the Mona Lisa. It sought answers to the ultimate question of what is the true identity of the woman behind the enigmatic smile. Out of all the answers the documentary presented, only one left me astounded, less because of the answer itself and more because of the reason behind it. We’ve been asking who is she when it could be who is he? It was the theory that Mona Lisa is the painter himself–Leonardo Da Vinci. If it is a self-portrait then why is it a woman? Da Vinci was gay and hid his true self on the painting to avoid prosecution and worst–execution. That was The Renaissance; fast forward to around 500 years later and it hasn’t changed that much. It’s the 21st Century and yet what is headlining the news? More than 100 suspected gay men being detained, tortured, and murdered in Chechen prisons.
It hasn’t changed that much. The world still has a lot of Leonardo Da Vinci hiding behind their Mona Lisa to avoid being a victim of hate crimes, discrimination, bullying, humiliation, and in the case of Chechnya ‘anti-gay purge’–to avoid being a victim of abduction, torture and murder. People who are too afraid to live outside the closet because the society continues to be a threat to genders other than male and female. People who can’t celebrate their true identity because the society confines us to the standard that a woman should only love a man, and a man should only love a woman. People who can only be themselves when they are in the shadow. People who are forced to fit in the boxes they totally don’t belong to. People who have no choice but to fake their preferences, choices, needs, wants, their everyday life in general. When did happiness become a privilege only straight people can have? Since when did “I’m gay” become a synonym of “I’m the damned in damnation so bathe me in bible verses and soak me in judgmental stares until I straighten up and become worthy of salvation?”
If it is never wrong to be who you are, if it is never wrong to be freely you then why should gay people face consequences for simply being themselves? Why it is not okay to be a queer, to be a lesbian, to be a bisexual, to be a pansexual, to be a transsexual? Why it is not okay to give these people the same freedom and rights the society gives to straight people?
Five hundred years later and the words ‘it is wrong to be gay’ are still echoing in the modern world. It hasn’t changed that much. It hasn’t changed that much when it truly should have.